Travel insurance – latest developments

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 42 of the December 1995 issue.

Preexisting-condition clause on the way out

Suddenly this year, a number of travel insurance companies have cho­sen to waive the onerous “preexisting medical condition” clause in their overseas health coverage and trip- cancellation policies.

The coverage must be purchased within 24 hours of making the first deposit on a trip (this is easily done through your travel agent), and for trip cancellation protection the cov­erage generally must be purchased for the entire amount of the purchase price of the trip.

If your travel agent of tour/cruise company does not provide access to one of these improved policies, one can purchase this coverage using one of the toll-free “800” numbers below.

In case a claim is subsequently made, you must be able to show a receipt or other documentation that proves that both the first trip de­posit and the policy purchase were made within a 24-hour period; other­wise, the standard preexisting-con­dition clause will apply.

Your best strategy, if you wish to avoid the preexisting-condition clause in one of these policies, is to locate a policy that suits your needs before you book a trip and make that first deposit.

Then make sure that you (or your travel agent) properly coordinate the purchase of the trip insurance, with clear documentation that the “within 24 hour” requirement has been met.

A few insurance companies allow the policy purchase by midnight of the next business day. These rules are binding bits of your contract with the insurance company. Take the trouble to find out exactly what the rules are for your chosen policy and get iron-clad proof that you’ve met the requirements.

It’s worth the trouble to get this improved coverage; so far, it’s avail­able without any increase in cost.

See the article “Look for the Preex­isting-Condition Clause When Buy­ing Travel Insurance” (May ’95, pg. 46) or send me a business-size SASE at ITN for a reprint.

As of October 1995, the following companies are offering this improved coverage: Travel Guard, 800/826- 1300; Access America, 800/284- 8300; Globalcare, 800/779-1017; Tele-Trip, 800/228-9792; CSA Inc., 800/348-9505; American Express, 800/234-0375, and Travelers Insur­ance PAK, 800/243-3174.

This coverage is so new that some insurance companies have not yet gotten approval to offer it in all states.

Travel Guard, Access America and Travelers Insurance PAK are offering the coverage in every state.

Following is a list of insurance com­panies and the states where their improved coverage is not yet avail­able (as of October 1995): Global- Care (TX, SC, CT, KS); Tele-Trip (NY, FL, PA, SC, OR, KS); Ameri­can Express (TX, SC, KS, CT), and CSA Inc. (TX, SC, KS, CT).

If you have the time before your next trip, call several insurance com­panies for brochures so that you can compare their packages, prices and the availability of the preexisting- condition waiver in your state.

If your travel agent or cruise/tour company does not provide this im­proved coverage, ask them, “Why not?”

Thanks to LOIS TOWNSEND of Oceanside, CA, and to PHILIP WAGENAAJt, M.D., of Seattle, WA, for their letters on this topic.

Emergency medical evacuation

The California State Automobile Association (AAA) is now offering a membership upgrade package for $28 above the cost of their regular auto club membership.

In addition to upgraded automo­bile-related services, this upgraded package includes “Up to $25,000 Emergency Medical Transportation Coverage, in the event of a medical emergency here or abroad, for cov­ered emergency evacuation expenses resulting from sickness or injury.

“This includes transportation by an air ambulance and, if need be, cost of returning dependent children home.”

I was told that there is no preexist­ing-condition clause relating to this emergency evacuation service.

Auto clubs around the country are separate entities; check with your lo­cal branch office and/or review your September/October issue of Motor- land magazine to see if this service is available to you.


Global Emergency Medical Ser­vices, Inc. (2001 Westside Dr., Ste. 120, Alpharetta, GA, 30201-9955; phone 800/860-1111, or fax 404/475- 0058) offers a new service (since 1994) for travelers in the USA or overseas.

Their MedPass program allows a traveler to quickly find quality medi­cal attention. Subscribers complete a detailed, medical record that is main­tained in a computerized database.

Should a medical event occur, dial­ing the supplied 24-hour “hotline” phone number will direct a subscriber to the closest of a network of 6,000 health providers, including 2,400 hos­pitals in 1,700 cities in 185 countries.

The subscriber’s medical record will then be transmitted by facsimile or computer modem.The plan is designed to provide the best-possible treatment in the “golden hour,” that period after a medical emergency strikes when treatment is most effective.

The MedPass program does not pay for treatments or for medical evacua­tion but does provide other services such as pre-trip immunization rec­ommendations, etc.

The cost to individuals is $75 per year plus $1 per day of travel. Corpo­rate rates are available also.

For the record

Effective Jan. 1, 1995, Divers Alert Network (DAN) provides emergency medical evacuation services thorough World Wide Assist (see July ’95, pg. 55), and DAN’s new membership in­formation number is 800/446-2671.